Vandals have daubed ‘Gaza’ in red paint across a Holocaust research library in London – amid a string of disturbances around the capital.
Staff at the Wiener Holocaust Library found the vile graffiti this morning on a sign promoting its exhibition and reading room.
The library is the world’s oldest institution dedicated to the study of the Holocaust, having been founded in 1933 to provide information about Nazi persecution.
It came as pro-Palestine activists caused chaos in central London with a rush hour protest at St Pancras, while the Foreign Office and a UK weapons firm were smeared with red paint.
A group of Jewish people gathered at the station to pray for the people of Gaza before videos appear to show British Transport Police officers attempting to break them up and take their speeches.
Staff at the Wiener Holocaust Library found the vile graffiti this morning on a sign promoting its exhibition and reading room
A small number of protesters appeared to have a brief tussle with officers from the British Transport Police
Officers were seen speaking with those who attended the St Pancras protest
The Wiener Holocaust Library was targeted last night.
History of the world’s oldest Holocaust research library
The library has its origins in the work of Dr Alfred Wiener, who campaigned against Nazism in the 1920s and 30s and gathered evidence about the persecution of Jews in Germany.
Dr Wiener fled Germany in 1933 and settled in Amsterdam. Later that year he set up the Jewish Central Information Office (JCIO) to collect information about Nazi persecution.
In response to increasing Nazi persecution, the collection was moved to London the following year.
It is believed to have opened on the day Germany invaded Poland.
The Library’s founder Dr Alfred Wiener, in his office, c. 1950s. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections
An employee noted that the word ‘Gaza’ appeared smudged, suggesting someone may have tried to remove it from the sign before it was officially discovered.
Library director Dr Toby Simpson told Jewish News: ‘This graffiti was obviously intended to cause damage and distress. To use ignorance as a weapon against an institution of learning is stupid and wrong. To lash out against Israel by targeting a Holocaust institution is an action that can only make sense to antisemites and their enablers.’
The library’s CCTV is not believed to cover the area in question, according to reports.
At St Pancras this morning, protesters held signs including ‘Stop bombing Gaza. Not in our name’ and ‘Jews say ceasefire now’, as dozens of people chanted: ‘Let us pray, let us pray.’
As British Transport Police officers began speaking with those gathered at the station, the group began chanting ‘We can’t hear you’ and ‘let us pray’.
One attendee shared a video to X and said: ‘Police are attempting to arrest Jews in prayer. We shout ‘let us pray’ for Palestine. The police have confiscated copies of our speeches.’
Others said the atmosphere was ‘pretty emotionally charged’. Flags, banners and posters were all seen being held by those present.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police said: ‘Just after 8am today (2 November), our officers attended a sit-in protest at St Pancras railway station.
‘The group were reported to be peaceful and there were no reports of disorder. There was no impact on the station services and by 8.45am the group had moved on.
‘Anyone wishing to make a report related to this incident can text 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40 with reference 116 of 2 November 2023.’
A man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage after the protest at weapons firm Leonardo
Separately, video footage shared by Palestine Action, which describes itself as ‘the direct action network dismantling British complicity with Israeli apartheid’ showed a protester spraying messages calling for an end to conflict in the Middle East at firm Leonardo’s HQ.
Police officers initially arrested one person on suspicion of criminal damage and remained at the scene, ‘seeking to arrest’ another who could be heard chanting ‘Stop the arms trade, end the struggle, free, free Palestine’ from the building’s canopy.
As of 11.45am, Palestine Action said its protester was still on the building’s roof and video footage showed him leading a chant and shouting: ‘Palestine will never die’.
The Met Police told MailOnline that a ‘specialist team who work at height are on the scene’ and are ‘ looking to bring him down and arrest him as quickly and safely as possible’.
Shortly afterwards the spokesperson said the individual had been safely removed and was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage.
The Eagle Place building has been daubed with messages included ‘free Palestine’ and ‘terrorists’.
Leonardo says it is one of the Ministry of Defence’s biggest suppliers of defence and security equipment.
Dozens of people attended the sit-in demonstration on Thursday morning
Two police officers detain a pro-Palestine protester outside Leonardo HQ on Thursday
Security guards monitor the entrance to Leonardo after protesters targeted it with red paint
The writing on the walls of the building accused the company of being ‘baby killers’
A video from the scene showed a man wearing a balaclava on top of the building’s entrance holding a red smoke flare. He shouted that the UK government is ‘complicit in genocide.’
Other messages daubed on the walls accused Leonardo of being ‘baby killers’.
The group added online: ‘Leonardo supplies Israel with Apache Helicopters and parts for their F-35 fighter jets, used to bombard Gaza.’
Activists also targeted the Foreign Office, daubing red paint across the building’s entrance and writing ‘blood’.
A post on X, formerly Twitter, from the group said: ‘Actionists spray the Foreign Office in London, 106 years after Britain signed away the land of Palestine to the zionist colonial project.
‘Since then, Britain continues to arm apartheid Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. BRITAIN IS GUILTY!’
A spokesperson for the Met Police said: ‘Two men have been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage, which we are investigating as hate crime.
‘Messages about the conflict between Israel and Hamas have been painted onto the building in red paint, which has also been thrown at it.
‘We have no tolerance for graffiti with a hate connotation in London.
‘One of the men who climbed onto the canopy above the building was safely removed by officers. Both men are in police custody.’
After one arrest was made by police officers, a second activist remained on the roof of Leonardo HQ
The activists unfurled banners at the address in central London as they targeted the building in the early hours of the morning
A photograph shared by the force showed a person with their face covered standing on top of the entrance to the building. The slogan ‘free Gaza’ had been written behind them.
In a post on social media, Palestine Action said: ‘Palestine Action occupy and spray weapons firm Leonardo’s London HQ, suppliers of weaponry for Israel’s fighter jets.
‘106 years ago today, Britain signed away the land of Palestine. It’s now up to the people to end the ongoing complicity in genocide!’
The activists protested on the 106th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a controversial statement issued by the British government in 1917 which supported a ‘national home for the Jewish people’ within Palestine.
The declaration is named after Arthur James Balfour, the then-British Foreign Secretary.
One of the slogans daubed on the wall of the Foreign Office reads: ‘F*** Balfour.’
MailOnline has contacted the Foreign Office and Leonardo for comment.